Monday, 29 June 2015

My Children Need Their Sleep.

The 10yo is not happy with the bedtime arrangements in our house. Admittedly if I was 10 I probably wouldn't be too.  Seeing it from the point of having been "the little sister" I'm on the side of the 5yo on this.

Ever since he was born, he was a great sleeper, all night through by 11 weeks (yes, I am smug). However I paid for that by him waking every day at 5am.  He would have 10 hours sleep, no more, no less.  I despaired of the 5am wake-up call. I would crawl out of bed, slump on the sofa and nod off to endless episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine.

When he started school, he shifted forward to 6am. The Gods smiled, I breathed a sigh of relief and then found out I was pregnant with No. 2.

Luckily when No. 2 arrived I was blessed again with good chunks of sleep and a baby that slept through from 12 weeks. (I am super smug).  Luckily No. 2 didn't have the 5am wake-up call, 6am is so much more civilised.

Roll on 5 years and this is where I'm at.  We have a good bedtime routine, bath/shower, PJ's, teeth brushing, story & bed. This is for both.  The 10yo does everything at the same time as the 5yo, albeit about a 10 minute rollover.  The 5yo is usually settling down for sleep by 8pm.  I personally feel it's late for a 5 yo but I just can't get it any earlier.  The 10yo is usually in bed for 8.30 at the latest.  Here is where his issue is.

None of my friends go to bed this early.

He clearly feels hard done by. Apparently none of his friends have to go to bed at this time. It's practically the afternoon.  Summer evenings when the bedrooms are bathed in sunlight isn't helping. Hearing the neighbours (younger children) still playing in their garden doesn't help. 

If he's playing his xBox with his friends, he often has to be the first to leave the game. I don't care. He needs his sleep.  

I am not saying no for the sake of it or "just because I said so".  We leave the house at 7am. The kids are deposited at their grandparents and MrM and I head off to commute into work. I firmly believe 10 hours helps with his concentration, (his ADHD puts him at a disadvantage in the concentration stakes), helps with keeping him healthy, his body growing strong.

 The 5yo is all about the "fairness" of it all.  Being a highly competitive madam, she can't see why she must go to bed earlier than her big brother.  They are equal. If anything she feels superior to him a fair amount of the time I'm sure.  I remember being the little sister and wanting to do the same things at the same time as my big brother.  Bed-time and pocket money were big issues in our house when I was small.

It looks like history is repeating it self.

What time do your kids go to bed? Is 8.30 early or late for a 10 year old?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Flush The Bloody Toilet!

The 10 year old has been toilet trained for the past seven years, give or take a few months.

For some obscure reason he finds it impossible to remember to flush the toilet.  Or to lift the seat and wash his hands.  It drives me nuts!

I know it's not for effort on my part.  I spend a good part of my day re-directing him back to the bathroom to wipe the seat, flush the toilet and wash his hands. I'm like the toilet police.
Surely it should be like second nature by now? You do something enough you don't even think of doing it, it just happens. Muscle memory. I've driven home from the in-laws or sometimes and have no recollection of the actual journey. I could do it blindfolded. 

So why, oh why, can't he flush the bloody toilet!?

Modern Dad Pages

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Curse Of The Curl or Heavenly Swirl?

I have curly hair. It seems to me the older I have gotten, the curlier and harder to control it's got. Grey hair is definitely more wiry and less inclined to do what you want it to do!

I've always struggled with it. When I was a little girl, it looked like

You may think it looks alright. However it was short and my Mum would spend Sunday afternoon's putting hundreds of clips in it to give it that 1970's old lady "set" look.

As soon as I was a teenager I started to grow my hair.  It was hard. It grew outwards rather than down. I thought I could have a fringe and straighten it. Nope I just ended up looking like I'd electrocuted myself.

These days, I keep it kind of shoulder length and often it's tied up in a pony tail and not really very looked after.

This week I discovered "plopping".  It's a way of plopping your hair into a towel or t-shirt and allowing it to dry naturally with no heat.

The method I used was this:
Wash hair and gently towel dry
Apply some leave in conditioner and comb through with a large tooth comb.
Apply some more curly product. I used Phil Smith Curly Locks Curl Control Creme but I really prefer Frizz Ease Secret Agent Perfecting Creme. I just didn't have any at home.

Once you have applied your cocktail lay an old t-shirt on a flat surface, like your bed.
Gently bend over so your hair "plops" onto the t-shirt.
Take the bottom ends of the t-shirt and hold them around the back of your neck.
With your other hand take the neck of the t-shirt and pull over the top of your head and pull round to the front.
The t-shirt sleeves should be near the top of your head and you can tie them up and tuck them in.
Then leave it. I slept with my hair in this. It was actually quite comfortable, no lumpy bumpy bits, no wet pillow, no looking like this in the morning.

In the morning, I took off the towel and this is how it looked.

I was really pleased with the overall outcome for the first time.  I applied a little Frizz Ease perfecting creme to the back when I got to work at 8.30am as I felt the back was a little frizzy but I'm sure this could be perfected with practise and knowing how much or little product to use.

Below is a tutorial to help you try plopping. Do you have any hair care secrets you can share?

Hair Plopping You Tube Tutorial

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Mis-Adventures Of A Silly Dog. 1.

We have a spaniel, he's dippy.  He's a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, droopy eared and doe eyed. Loving, sweet and silly.

Cavaliers in particular are knows for being fussy eaters or incredibly greedy.  Mine seems to be in the greedy group. At meal times he'll sit next to Mr.M because he knows who's the soft touch.  He once snaffled a steak off my plate when I got up from the table to get a drink and will  pinch food out of the 5 year old's hand if she wanders about with it. 

A few weeks ago he found and consumed a large Easter Egg my daughter had left by the dining table. He wasn't even on his own, I was upstairs.  He chewed through the box and ate the egg.  Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, In a panic I called the vets. Luckily I had the amount he ate and his weight. He was sick and shaky for a day or two.

Last week, I went on the school run and didn't take him with me. He's not allowed in the school grounds, I can't leave him in the car and don't want to leave him tied up at the railings.   I was out for and hour and a half. When we got home he'd eaten the contents of the bathroom bin.

For those with a weak or delicate constitution leave the story here.

The contents were not nice I'm afraid. It was mainly used tampons in nappy bags.  Again he started to be sick, this time at 3am in my bedroom.  First thing in the morning I called the vets. Apparently unused tampons are worse than used due to the absorbency. Who knew?  I took him in and he was given an anti-sickness injection and special food for dogs with poorly tummies.  The vet provided me with rubber gloves and asked me to keep my eye on his bowel movements, literally. 

So I have found myself in the garden, gloves on, phone at the ready to inspect and take pictures of the offending turds.  I could post a picture on here....

but I wont!

Just know this... it's not nice!

And so, after getting rid of all the baby gates a few years ago, I may have go and get another one.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Dear Son

On Monday it will be your 10th birthday.  A decade since you arrived 7 weeks early a scrawny scrap of skin at 4lb 2oz. 
I never experienced labour, I've never had a contraction, you were pulled from me whilst I was asleep. I was so ill I didn't see you for the first few hours of your life. It never stopped my heart opening up to you.  For such a tiny boy you were so strong and long! You still are one of the tallest in your year and will be patting me on the head soon.  You had such a fighting spirit and grew at a great rate of knots. In hospital I used to come down to the Special Care Baby Unit and visit you in the dead of night, holding you, feeding you enjoying the peace. Our time.

At three weeks you came home and my life has never been the same. 

I've experienced the highs of parenting, watching you take your first steps, learn to talk, start school, ride a bike, your first crush.  And the lows. The time you were three and burnt your hand on the iron when I turned my back for a second. 
When you were five and went missing at a Spanish water park for half an hour.  You, my clever boy who found a security guard when you knew you were lost.

Now we're entering a different era. The tweens.  You ask me lots of questions about body changes which I endeavour to answer honestly. I love to make you laugh so when you ask me if you're getting hair under your arms or on your chest; I say I won't check your bum for hair. You're hormonal and shouty and horrible to your little sister.   But I can get past that, when you give me a big cuddle and say you love me. That you've told your friends I'm a brilliant cook (when I'm really not!).  When I see you trying to hide the pride in your face as we're allowing a little more freedom and you can walk home from school on your own.  Inch by inch I'm already letting go. 

In the next ten years you won't be mine. You'll always be my little man, but you may belong to  someone else's heart by then. You wont tell me everything that's happening in your life and I wont be the cleverest person you know. You may have left home, you may even have a child of your own. 

Remember, I love you little man.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Brand Loyalty. Is It Dead?

Years ago, there were less channels on the television, less radio stations, less Supermarkets, less utility suppliers, just less everything.

Everyone used the same companies, British Telecom, British Gas, Royal Mail, BBC, or ITV. (BBC2 if you were feeling a little high brow or "alternative").  Then Margaret Thatcher sold them off, made them private and opened the doors of commerce.

Now we are spoilt for choice.  Unless you want to send a letter then we are stuck with Royal Mail, but who sends letters these days anyway?  I've even given up sending out Christmas cards.

My utility supplier is British Gas,  I was on a fixed deal with them which ends 31st May. If I left early I was subject to a £60 penalty.  They kindly sent a letter detailing my current tariff and what prices were on the new tariff.

Being what I like to think of as a savvy shopper I got myself over the the moneysavingexpert website and their "Cheap Energy Club".  I entered the details British Gas wanted to put me on and found I could potentially save £200 a year just by switching to a different supplier.  Now, British Gas give me Nectar loyalty points.  To earn £200 I'd have to collect 40,000 Nectar points. I'd have to fire up the National Grid for that. I kindly pointed out that in these austere times, saving the money is worth far more than brand loyalty.  I have a theory that most gas and electricity supplied to our homes is from the same sources. Unless I have specifically chosen a company to supply my gas purely from the methane of a herd of cows somewhere in the Scottish highlands.

But then I thought, am I as savvy as I thought? I food shop in Tesco, purely for Clubcard points.  They are far better value than Nectar and I often use them on days out for the children. I even use a Tesco credit card to boost my points.  Maybe I should be looking to get a better price on my food shopping and use what I save for days out?  There is something very satisfying about handing over £10 worth of points for a day at London Zoo or similar.

So I think I'm going to be a big fat hypocrite and  keep saving my Tesco points and change my energy supplier.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Dog Days Out: West Wittering Beach

I have vague memories and the odd photo of us at a beach. I seem to remember it could have been Clacton. I was small and it was hot and sunny.
Me, Dad & Brother, possibly Clacton Circa summer 1975
The only beaches my kids have been to is the ones we have visited abroad on holiday and Bognor Regis as my Aunty lives there.

Now we have the puppy I'm always looking out for somewhere we can take him as well.  He's an important member of our family and deserves days out too!  Someone suggested West Wittering beach. 

They're out there somewhere!
When we arrived, it was a bit chilly and a bit windy but the view was amazing. Huge sandy flats with a low tide.  We'd been in the loft and dug out the buckets and spades, the 5yo, 9yo, MrM and dog were straight off leaving me to fight the wind to get the blanket down and pinned in place with the picnic bag and various shoes.  The 5yo came back, bucket full of shells and soaked up to her bum.  I'd rather hopefully brought a pair of her shorts with me so with a lot of struggling I managed to peel the already tight leggings from her cold, wet legs and replace them.

My dog isn't a water fan. Odd I know. The slightest sniff of rain and he refuses to leave the house. After a long walk you'd think he'd want to dip his paws but not my little pup. However, he was happy to get his paws wet on the beach. He also kept trying to drink the salt water and made himself a little sick. Being the well prepared owner I am, I had remembered to bring his pop-up water bowl and fresh water. 

Sadly the chilly weather had got the better of us. There were lots of people flying kites and having a great time.

We wandered up towards the car park and the beach cafe. MrM and I had a well deserved hot drink and the kids both had huge ice-creams despite being almost blue from being cold and wet!

If you want to visit, it's close to Chichester Harbour, about an hour and twenty minutes drive from where we are on the London/Surrey border.  It's sandy and has year round dog friendly sections.  There's a huge car park which is £8 for a full day at high season weekends with plenty of room for picnics and barbecues.

As soon as summer finally decides to visit us we'll definitely be back.   

For more information about the beach you can click   here

Monday, 1 June 2015

A Day Out At Bocketts Farm

If you find yourself looking for a fun filled day out with the children, you could do with visiting Bocketts Farm. It's 5 minutes drive from Junction 9 of the M25 and is set in the beautiful Surrey countryside near Leatherhead. It's open almost all year, closing only on Christmas and Boxing Day and 1st January.

Armed with a picnic the tiddlers and I set out for the day. Luckily we don't live too far away so it was no more than half an hour drive for us.  There is ample free parking although the later you arrive you may have a bit of a walk to the farm entrance.

Adult entrance is £9.30 and children aged 3-17 are £9.95 each. Under 2's are free and oddly 2 year olds cost £8.20.  At the entrance you can buy bags of animal feed for 90pence.

As soon as you enter, you are greeted with what looks like mayhem. There are trampolines, small trucks and ride-ons, a soft play, a place to get tea, coffee and snacks and the loos.  There are picnic tables and benches.  You are hit with noise. My two ran off to the ride-ons whilst I gathered myself and started looking at the map and planning what we wanted to do.

Pony riding was something they like to do. Bocketts run the pony rides twice a day during weekends and school holidays, this comes at an extra cost of £2 per child and is extremely popular. By the time I'd prized them off the ride-ons it was almost time to go and queue for the ponies.  Both children were fitted with helmets and had their ride. It's quite a short trip as they are trying to fit in as many children within the hour time-slot as they can.

After the horses we stopped at the go-karts next door. There are two tracks, under 5's and over 5's.  My 5 year old was very happy to be able to go onto the "big" track.  They raced around, competing with each other as usual.  As if cycling the go-karts wasn't tiring enough, they went straight onto the huge bouncy pillows.  Again there's two, over and under 5's.

By now they had worked up and appetite so we set up our blanket in the picnic area. The kids would have a munch then wander off to the playground then come back for more. It was lovely for me to just sit and relax. 

When we left the picnic area, we went up to the Big Animal Barn where they have, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, donkeys and llamas. Being spring time there were lots of lambs, kids and two calf's (one only 3 days old). I was sure the 5 year old would happily have sneaked a lamb home in her rucksack!  We fed the animals then after thoroughly washing our hands we wandered past the stable area inside to the soft play.  I went and got myself a lovely cup of tea and found a table to sit and watch whilst they exhausted themselves running around and going down the large four lane slide.  When they had finally had enough, I treated them both to an ice-cream.

As they needed to cool down and I felt they could do with a rest, we walked up to behind the Big Animal barn and waited for the tractor and trailer ride. This costs £1.25 each extra.  We waited for about 10 minutes under the shelter.  The tractor ride took approximately 15minutes and went around the perimeter of the farm.  It is a working sheep farm and they had about 1,000 sheep with the new lambs.

The children decided they wanted to go on the go-karts again, then the big pillows. By now it was almost 3pm so we went to Little Hoppington where the small animals are kept to watch the goat milking.  Straight after this is the small animal handling.  Again I think the 5 year old wanted to smuggle everything out.

3.45pm and it was time for the pig racing!  There are five piggies given fun names: Peppa Pig (obviously), Bradley Piggins, Boaris Johnson, Harry Trotter and Kevin Bacon.  They run on a very short course but the staff do a good job at getting everyone eager and ready to shout for their favourites!

By now it was 4pm, the kids decided they wanted "another" go on the go-karts. I needed another cup of tea by now so after the go karts I got my tea then we all went to the outdoor playground.  I gave them 45 minutes then we went inside. They hadn't been on the trampolines so of course had to do this too. I have no idea where they got so much energy for all this jumping, leaping and playing!

To leave you have exit via the shop. Ah that old trick... I had already pointed out to mine that I was NOT going to buy anything and we left, exhausted, dirty, sweaty and happy.

If you want more information on Bocketts Farm you can visit their website: